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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Hogs’ Season Ends with Loss to Missouri…Many Questions for the Program Going into the Offseason

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FAYETTEVILLE- A tough season for the Arkansas football program ended with a thud on Friday. The Missouri Tigers dominated the Hogs in a 48-14 loss at Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium. With the loss, the season comes to an end, and an arduous offseason begins with several crucial questions to be answered along with a renewed commitment to resources and talent that badly needs to be infused into the program.

Arkansas quarterback K J Jefferson, who may have played his final game in a Razorbacks uniform, was injured in the first half on Friday, adding insult to what has been a very difficult year. Jefferson, who broke Arkansas’s career touchdown passes record last week, will now have a decision to make on his future. Among Jefferson’s options are, return to the Hogs for a final COVID year of eligibility, transfer to another school to play that year, or declare for the NFL draft. Jefferson will likely be joined by others on the roster who may elect to leave the program next season. All of this, combined with the NCAA early football signing period in December, will have a significant impact on the Razorbacks roster for 2024.

Here are the final highlights and post-game comments on the Hogs’ last game for 2023 as provided by the University of Arkansas:

» WR Andrew Armstrong hauled in a team-high four receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. Armstrong finished the season with multiple catches in all 12 of the Razorbacks’ games and has recorded at least one catch in 28 consecutive contests dating back to his 2021 campaign at Texas A&M-Commerce.
» True freshman RB Isaiah Augustave scored his first collegiate touchdown on a six-yard rush in the fourth quarter. Augustave finished with 15 carries for 80 yards (5.3 ypc) and one touchdown. He also added three receptions for seven yards.
» K Cam Little is 129-for-129 on PAT attempts in his career and owns the school record for consecutive PAT made (129), a streak that ranks third-most among active FBS kickers.
» DL John Morgan III had a career-high five tackles and also registered a season-high in tackles for loss (2.0).
» DB Lorando Johnson tied his career-high in PBUs with two. Johnson compiled two tackles and two PBUs.


ATTENDANCE
59,847

Sam Pittman, Arkansas Head Coach
Opening statement:
“I want to start out twofold by thanking the fans for continuing to come out to support us over the Thanksgiving holiday and I want to thank Missouri. We knew they had a really good football
team and a physical football team. They played a really good game today and obviously, we did not. But congratulations to them; they were a physical team and the running back is really
good. We had a hard time and couldn’t stop him.”


On Jacolby Criswell:
“Jacolby, he’s tough. I thought he played extremely hard he just didn’t have time to throw the football. Neither did KJ for that matter. We got beat up front and we gave up a sack, and he
never had any time to throw the football, so it’d be hard to judge his performance but you could say he was tough and very gritty.”
“He’s a competitor and he’s athletic. I thought he did a nice job of leading the team and obviously in the fourth quarter he led us down to a couple of touchdowns and threw a nice touchdown
pass. It’s really hard to judge him other than his character and his toughness to continue to get up and play.”


Hudson Clark, Arkansas DB
On KJ getting injured at the start of the game:
“It is sad to see, he is our leader. Again sad to see, but he will bounce back.”
On Missouri’s quick start to the second half:
“It is tough anytime you get put into that situation, but it does not matter where the ball gets placed. We have to fight and try to get the ball back for our offense. We have to have that
mindset going into every drive.”
Hudson, the defense had such a good start to the season and then the last 4 games haven’t quite matched. What, from your vantage point changed, and led to the struggles
to close the season?
“I don’t know if anything changed. We just have to come out every game and fight hard, and we are not going to let the last couple of games take away what we did during the season.”


Josh Braun, Arkansas OL
On Jacolby Criswell’s extended playing time:
“[He handled] it with maturity and poise in a very unfortunate situation, and he handled it well. He did his best. He kept us motivated between every drive. He’d come over on the sideline and
we’d talk through pretty much every play with him – what we were seeing versus what he was seeing, and how we could execute better in the next drive.”
On KJ Jefferson leaving with an injury:
” It’s disappointing to see any of our teammates get hurt, with their effort and desire to play this game, anything that prevents them from doing that hurts us as a team.”
On disappointing end to the season:
“After a disappointing year like this, something has to change. We have to do better. If we want to have any success next year, it starts with the offensive line. We didn’t put our offense in a good position, and that put a lot of stress on our defense and special teams. Something definitely needs to change, and we’ve got to put it on ourselves to get better every day this offseason.

At RNN Sports, it was our pleasure to bring you Razorbacks coverage all season. We will continue to bring you updates on offseason and spring football developments leading into next season. Thank you for following RNN Sports, and we look forward to bringing you Razorbacks men’s and women’s basketball coverage this winter!

Note to Our Readers: Portions of this story were sourced directly from the University of Arkansas Office of Communications, Grace Tafolla.

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Jim Best
Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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